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Style Notes: The Women Of Fendi

Style Notes: The Women Of Fendi

The house of Fendi is synonymous with luxury, fur and female power. Since it was founded in 1925 by husband and wife duo Adele and Edoardo Fendi, the women of the Fendi family have transformed the label from small leather goods boutique and fur workshop to international fashion empire. Four generations of Fendi women have presided over the house, and at the peak of the family dynasty there were five sisters running the (fabulous and furry) show from their atelier in Rome. From the appointment of the world’s most feted designer, Karl Lagerfeld (who has been at Fendi for over 50 years – a record in fashion), to creating the world’s first It-bag, the women of Fendi have finessed a unique combination of whimsical style, Roman luxury and playfulness that make it utterly irresistible. No wonder it’s fashion’s favourite F word.

Model wearing A navy and taupe Fendi kan I bag
Model wearing A navy and taupe Fendi kan I bag

THE FENDI STORY

It sounds like something from an Italian folktale. Five sisters grow up sleeping amongst the furs of their mother and father’s secret atelier, learning the trade and skills required to transform raw materials into fine luxury pieces. But unlike the naïve, biddable girls of fairy stories, the Fendi sisters demonstrate the singular vision, business acumen and boundless creativity required to grow a global super brand. Against the wishes of their mother, they appoint a young, German designer (known as Lagerfeld) who has arrived in Rome from Paris to head up their new line of women’s RTW. Later, their couture which will be presented at fashion shows on the Great Wall of China and runways suspended over Rome’s Trevi fountain walked by Kendall Jenner.

The Fendi sisters didn’t kiss frogs, they just worked hard, and unless Prince Charmings come with subtle perma-tans, white hair and fingerless gloves these days, they were never in need of rescue, either.

Model wearing a Fendi FF Zucca reversible logo bomber jacket in brown, bronze and black
Model wearing a Fendi FF Zucca reversible logo bomber jacket in brown, bronze and black

THE WOMEN OF FENDI

Last year, the house celebrated its 90th birthday – that’s nice decades of strong women driving one of the world’s most celebrated fashion houses. Without wanting to trivialise the matter, it’s the epitome of girl power. The OG Fendi matriarch Adele Fendi née Casagrande was an entrepreneur and opened her first leather and fur workshop in 1918. Although she re-named her boutique Fendi after marrying her husband, their five daughters were later granted a special government dispensation to allow their own descendants to retain the maternal surname. Fendi Forever. In a pretty conservative country, it is testament to the influence and importance of the sisters to Italy.

Working alongside their mother after their father’s death, the five sisters Anna, Paola, Franca, Alda and Carla soon found their niche in the business. Anna was the creative – long-time collaborator of Karl Lagerfeld and mother to Silvia Venturini Fendi, who now spearheads the house. Under Anna’s supervision, the RTW and menswear collections were born and Lagerfeld penned the double FF logo. Carla was the brand pioneer, intent on Fendi’s global success with a prescient understanding of Hollywood and the glitterati. Paola was the fur expert, Franca made retail fearless and beautiful and Alda ran the almost mythical atelier. These women were not wall flowers.

Fendi Kan I velvet FF bag
Fendi Kan I velvet FF bag

Now, Silvia rules the Fendi empire alongside the ever-present Lagerfeld. The only family member still working at the house, her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi is a jewellery designer who collaborates with the label from time to time. Silvia is listed as one of the most powerful women in fashion – it was she who designed the Fendi Baguette, a bag of such status and popularity it practically had its own role in Sex and the City. The world’s first ever It-bag, it has come in over 1000 iterations and has a glossy Rizzoli coffee table book dedicated to it – the kind that costs almost as much as the bag itself. Alongside the Baguette, the Peekaboo is an especially rare form of handbag – one that warrants its very own nomenclature and with which the fashion pack is so well acquainted as to be on first name terms.

It takes an especially rare form of fashion genius to create pieces of such brilliance that they are fixed indelibly on our collective fashion conscience, but the creative women of Fendi have done it time and again. With the help of the omnipotent Lagerfeld, what started life as a humble workshop has become the global A-list’s go-to for luxury with a side of fabulous fun. We’re seeing double FFs everywhere, and long may it last. TGIFendi.

Model wearing a Fendi FF Zucca reversible logo bomber jacket in brown, bronze and black
Model wearing a Fendi FF Zucca reversible logo bomber jacket in brown, bronze and black